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Douglas Manor tops state’s dirtiest waters

The Douglas Manor beach leads the state in water pollution, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council study. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

Last year was a bad one for city beaches, but none were ranked higher than Douglas Manor in health standard violations, according to a recent report by the National Resources Defense Council.

The report, “Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches,” found the number of closures and safety advisories from contamination increased drastically in 2011, with the Douglas Manor beach leading the pack in New York, exceeding the state’s daily maximum bacterial standards.

New York state ranked 24th out of 30 states sampled for poor beach water quality. Out of 372 beaches in the state, there were 1,841 closings or advisory days in 2011 at 224 beaches, the report said.

Joe Warren, treasurer of the Douglas Manor Association, said although it was no secret the beach has a record of being closed with poor water quality, finding the cause was the most important task the city should take.

“My understanding is that nobody really knows what is causing the problem,” Warren said. “The contamination must be coming from somewhere. I don’t believe the city has answered that question.”

According to the NRDC report, several different environmental factors contributed to the city’s poor performance in beach water quality.

The report said several record-breaking storms and Hurricane Irene were the prime causes in bringing large amounts of rain and storm runoff, which increases the amount of bacteria in the water surrounding city beaches. Hurricane Irene carried the highest record rainfall in a single day, the report said, with 7.72 inches, contributing to the wettest August on record for the city, the report said.

The NRDC said the excessive rainfall travels through the city’s sewer system along with waste, sometimes directly into the area’s waterways. The trend goes beyond the city, however, as the report noted that heavier rainfall throughout the country created a similar result.

“Our beaches are plagued by a sobering legacy of water pollution,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “Luckily, today more than ever, we know that much of this filth is preventable and we can turn the tide against water pollution. By establishing better beach water quality standards and putting untapped 21st century solutions in place, we can make a day at the beach as carefree as it should be and safeguard America’s vital tourism economies.”

The highest-ranked health standard violation rates in the state went to Niagara County, whose Krull Park came second to Douglaston in total violations. But other city beaches, including Orchard Beach, Coney Island and Rockaway Beach all met the state’s health standards.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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